Ten years later, Art Jenkyns would be proud!
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Founder Art Jenkyns, 1921 – 2005

When Operation Eyesight’s founder Art Jenkyns passed away on January 26, 2005, we knew that the world had lost a rare individual. Much has changed since the first meeting of “The Gullison Club” in 1963, when Art and his fellows at the Baptist Men’s Club raised $840 in support of Dr. Ben Gullison’s Arogyavaram Hospital.

A lot has changed since Art’s passing, too. In the past 10 years, we have adapted our methods and worked to tackle the root causes of avoidable blindness.

One such example is our effort to eliminate the agonizing eye disease trachoma. In 2007, we drilled our first borehole in Kenya’s Narok district, part of a strategy to change the conditions that allow the trachoma-causing bacteria to spread. Since then, we have drilled boreholes in Kenya’s West Pokot district and Zambia’s Sinazongwe region.

Another change is that we now work more closely with our partners. Our India staff have created a model of hospital-based community eye care that provides important technical advice rather than financial support. This model was endorsed by Vision 2020 India and represents a unique way of thinking about ending avoidable blindness. It involves establishing local referral and treatment services and training local community eye health workers.

These solutions are designed to create eye health care that can be sustained without foreign financial assistance, so that the places where we work will be able to eliminate avoidable blindness once and for all.

Art Jenkyns believed that we have the means and responsibility to help people who suffer from avoidable blindness. While those means have changed, the responsibility remains, and we are so thankful that our generous donors agree that this serious health issue is a challenge that must be addressed.

Our partner hospital DS Karad Eye Institute (shown above), located in India, is just one of our partners to establish a hospital-based community eye health program, ensuring that these communities have access to diagnosis and treatment that they would otherwise lack.
The opening of Watborg Eye Services’ new hospital in Ghana (shown above) in 2012 was another important milestone. Watborg has been our partner since 2007, and the new facility will improve eye care services to the region’s four million inhabitants.
Community eye health workers are a key part of our strategy to eliminate avoidable blindness. Shown above being trained at DS Karad Eye Institute in India, these workers are locally recruited, ensuring good relationships in the communities where they work.
Another change from earlier days: Operation Eyesight no longer collects used eyeglasses. It is now less expensive and easier to supply locally-produced eyeglasses to those with vision problems, and the sale of frames to wealthier buyers helps subsidize them for those in need, as well as provide the eye exam necessary to ensure that they get the right prescription.
One thing hasn’t changed: our donors are still saving sight and preventing blindness! Jerita from Kenya (shown above) is just one of many people to whom our donors have restored sight. Jerita, like all the people you’ve helped, is grateful for your support. “Thank you!”

We thank everyone who honours Art by making sure that his message is heard. We know that his dream of a world without avoidable blindness will one day be a reality!